Music has a powerful effect on our emotions. Parents know that a quiet, gentle lullaby can soothe a fussy baby. And a majestic chorus can make us swell with excitement. But music also can affect the way we think. In recent years, we've learned a lot about how the brain develops. Babies are born with billions of brain cells. During the first years of life, those brain cells form connections with other brain cells. Over time, the connections we use regularly become stronger. Children who grow up listening to music develop strong music-related connections. Some of these music pathways actually affect the way we think. Listening to music can improve our spatial reasoning, at least for a short time. And learning to play an instrument may have an even longer effect on certain thinking skills.
What Can You Do?
Parents and early childhood educators can help nurture children's love of music beginning in infancy. Here are some ideas:
Play music for young children. Expose infants and toddlers to many different musical selections of various styles. If you play an instrument, practice when children are nearby. But keep the volume moderate. Loud music can damage a baby's hearing.
Sing to children. It doesn't matter how well you sing! Hearing your voice helps infants begin to learn language. Infants love the patterns and rhythms of songs. And even young infants can recognize specific melodies once they've heard them.
Sing with children. Children enjoy singing with you and setting words to music actually helps the brain learn them more quickly and retain them longer. That's why we remember the lyrics of songs we sang as children, even if we haven't heard them in years.
Teach music in the classroom. Singing helps stimulate the brain, at least briefly. Over time, music education as a part of school can help build skills such as coordination and creativity. And learning music helps your child become a well-rounded person.
Consider the video below to support the use of music and movement in your program. The ties between music, culture, and early childhood development are strong and early childhood programs can do many things to support that!
Video: Music, Culture, and Early Childhood Development Source: ArtistsHouseMusic Length: 5:46
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